14 February 2010


The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean
-Robinson Jeffers (1940)

Unhappy about some far off things
That are not my affair, wandering
Along the coast and up the lean ridges,
I saw in the evening
The stars go over the lonely ocean,
And a black-maned wild boar
Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain.

The old monster snuffled, "Here are sweet roots,
Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns.
The best nation in Europe has fallen,
And that is Finland,
But the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
The old black-bristled boar,
Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain.

"The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
Said the old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.

"Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,"
Said the gamey black-maned boar 
Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain. 

As for the story behind this incredible image of a star ploughing through interstellar space, complete with a bow wave of ultraviolet light (from Astronomy Picture of the Day):
To 17-century astronomers, Omicron Ceti or Mira was known as a wonderful star whose brightness could change dramatically in the course of about 11 months. Mira is now seen as the archetype of a long-period variable star. Surprisingly, modern astronomers have only recently discovered another striking characteristic of Mira, an enormous comet-like tail nearly 13 light-years long. Billions of years ago Mira was likely similar to our Sun, but has now become a swollen red giant star, its outer layers of material blowing off into interstellar space. Fluorescing in ultraviolet light, the cast off material trails behind the giant star as it plows through the surrounding interstellar medium at 130 kilometers per second. The amount of material in Mira's tail is estimated to be equivalent to 3,000 times the mass of planet Earth.

Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, GALEX, C. Martin (Caltech), M. Seibert(OCIW)
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